27th March | Thekla
It’s 8pm on a Tuesday night and I’m happily grooving to the up-tempo sound of Cardiff-born rockers, Boy Azooga. A warm pint in hand, a prime spot on Thekla’s balcony, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the first act of the night. Providing heavy riffs and smooth lyrics aplenty, they’re not leaving much to be desired. Up next are the sultry tones of Our Girl. Two-thirds ladies, they’re pretty badass to start with, but when drummer Lauren Wilson gets in full swing she really steals the show. This trio packs a punch.
Perhaps it’s down to the contrasting mellowness of the two opening acts, but the boundless energy of The Magic Gang seems to appear out of nowhere. Starting off with the first track of their debut album, ‘Oh Saki’, the Brighton quartet are already living up to their name. One song in, and their ethereal trance of positive vibes is radiating from the deck of the boat.
The crowd are hooked, chanting out every lyric to the song as if they’ve known it for years rather than months, much to the band’s delight. Frontman Jack Kaye and lead guitarist Kristian Smith give each other a cheery look as if to say, ‘Can you believe this is happening?’, which makes the moment even more special.
Not wasting a second, they soon slide into a revamped version of their 2016 track, ‘All This Way’, showing their knack for fine-tuning great songs. Riding the wave of positivity, the four-piece appear to be lost for words each time they address the crowd. It’s refreshing to see a band who are so overjoyed by the audience’s reaction, a reaction they rightfully deserve. Three years on from their first single release, they’ve clearly gained an army of fans along the way.
As if there’s anybody left in the room who’s still having doubts, the next number ‘Caroline’ once again epitomises the inexhaustible happiness of The Magic Gang’s songs. Then they bring the lights and energy down. Kaye momentarily abandons his guitar and turns to bassist Angus Taylor, who’s settling himself behind a keyboard. A spotlight appears on Taylor as he begins to play the monotonous intro to ‘Take Care’, his first solo song of the night. Iimmediately, everybody’s entranced.
Singing the raw lyrics as if they’re being exposed for the very first time, Taylor’s mesmerising intimacy is both engaging and laudable. The crowd are already in the palm of his hand when the rest of the band join in for the more upbeat chorus. It’s no surprise that people are confessing their love for the bassist when the song ends. As for me, this is the real high point of the night.
After years of playing the lesser-known stages at festivals, supporting up-and-coming indie bands, and relentlessly touring, this band seem to have truly come into their own this year. The release of their debut album has brought about a turning point for these boys, and if tonight’s reaction is anything to go by, they’ll only become more popular in the months to come. If you can catch them at a festival this summer be sure to pay them a visit. You won’t regret it.